I am a Romanian national and this is my and my husband’s story. We met online in 2005, it was love at first sight, but we decided to not rush into anything. So we kept our relationship alive via chat, old-fashioned letters (I still have the invitation he sent me to come and meet him), telephone calls and parcels with little presents. He tried his hardest to get a passport to come meet me but could not find anyone to countersign his application due to his health condition. He is suffering from massive depression and anxiety combined with agoraphobia, which makes him unable to leave his house.
But we were both determined to fight for our love, to the point that he even bought the engagement and wedding rings and sent them to me by post. The moment he popped the question, on Boxing Day 2005, was one of the most beautiful things ever. I was living on my own and my Mum was visiting. He and I were chatting when all of a sudden he told me to translate everything he was saying to my Mum. The more he talked, the bigger my eyes were getting at the realization of what he was doing.
As I said before, we decided to not rush and get to really know each other despite the fact that we’d never actually met. For us, the prospect of Romania joining the EU was the bit of good fortune we needed. Therefore in January 2007 I came to the UK to meet him and see what would happen from there. He could only come meet me accompanied by his father and under a lot of tranquilisers, but his love for me was far greater than anything else.
We decided to get married in the spring of that year and we’ve had a peaceful life until the Referendum.
Due to his health, he is unable to work, he is on EESA. In 2010 we moved into our first flat, and again in 2011 into the flat we live in now. I do have to emphasise the fact that he is not in receipt of any money for me. Due to his health, he relies on me for everything, from day to day decisions to dealing with all the household issues. And this is the reason why I decided to not go into full time employment. Don’t get me wrong, I am not his carer, I am a homemaker, and I would like nothing more than to continue to take care of my family.
With regards to his health, we have tried everything from medication, which he is still on, to group therapy, to cognitive therapy: nothing seems to work and the uncertainty of the last few months is an added stress. He is terrified every time I set foot out of the door that something will happen to me. I know it might be difficult to understand for some; I know it was for me too at the beginning, but his condition has improved a lot since he married me. I still hope that one day he will be able to fulfill all his dreams. I am really worried that having to break up his family will be the end of him, literally.
In the years I’ve been here, I have taken several courses. I have also been volunteering for a mentoring charity for quite a few years now. I am an in-home product tester, which means that every time I try a product, I somehow put my family at risk, because there could be adverse reactions to it. At the same time, I am trying to start a little craft business online.
But since the Referendum and because of the uncertainty over our status, we feel we have lost our peace of mind. I haven’t even attempted to apply for Permanent Residency because I don’t know where to start and I do not hold Comprehensive Sickness Insurance, something I have only just heard about. I do, however, have an NHS Patient card where it states in black and white that I should keep it safe because it is proof that I am entitled to NHS treatment. It is dated from April 2007.
The Referendum has had a profound effect on my husband’s health. The thought of losing his family terrifies him and many times I have had to hide my own anxieties to keep him strong. If the worst should happen, I can’t uproot him. He needs the NHS, he needs his treatment but mostly he needs me. Fortunately, so far I have not experienced any major xenophobic attacks, just some mild verbal abuse, simply because I was on the phone with my Mum in my neighbourhood. On the other hand, I have had people come to me after the Referendum just to say how sorry they were about what had happened; some even hugged me.
I am here simply out of love for him.